British photographic history

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Barnardo's magic lantern slides for sale on eBay?

A few days ago a batch of Barnardo's magic lantern slides were listed for sale on Ebay. I shared this sad fact on another conversational site. So much archive potential turns up on Ebay as to make one weep. Sellers with a bit of archival sensitivity could well inquire to borough and other archives and offer their sellable treasures in the first instance 'to the nation' either for a negotiated price or, preferably, as a donation.

It was suggested to me that Ebay's Barnardo lantern slides were probably not of great archival value since they were likely manufactured as a series of copy-slides churned out from a master-slide retained by Barnardo's. Even so, I would contend non-master copies can contain an overlooked archival worth considering master copies can go astray or not be so ‘masterful’ for sustained damage. Slide-to-slide will have varied imperfections as to necessitate the archiving of multiple copies that with their clear parts can be observed and/or digitised together to see/make, once more, a clear masterful, albeit copied, whole. With ref to Ebay - that master copies, in any case, would be identifiable from slide labelling - I later, in returning to Ebay, noted some slides were labelled as “This Slide is the property of Dr. Barnardo’s” or “This Slide is the Property of the National Waifs Association (Dr. Barnardo’s Homes)”.

Wasn’t the Barnardo’s archive a year or so ago given over to some other body to digitise and ‘conserve’? Once digitised and with the collection held in an ethereal library do original corporeal slides and photos and what–have-you retain any archival status seeing as originals require particular, and often extensive, space and special storage conditions expensively organised?

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Comment by Bobbie Carnegie on February 5, 2018 at 13:00

Inquiring to Barnardo's about the Ebay lantern slides Barnardo's has kindly answered. I share gist here. Quote: “…to clarify with you our position so there is no misunderstanding about the current situation with Barnardo’s archives. In 2013 we arranged for 247,000 images to be digitised. There were several reasons for this: 1. For preservation purposes; thereby the originals would not be in constant, use as had been the case for many years. 2. To make the images more accessible to our stakeholders; by putting them on a digital platform it would ease the process of sharing. 3. It would enable us to consider offsite storage for the originals, reducing the need for a climatically controlled archive and the amount of space required to store the material…The result was an unprecedented number of offers to secure the image library’s future and several months of work for Barnardo’s as we responded individually to every offer we received. After the six month digitisation project was complete the original images were returned to Barnardo’s and were restored to the climatically controlled archive where they remain. With regard to the Magic Lantern slides that recently appeared on eBay, these are not ours. We have a small collection of the slides in the archive, but I know from our history that there are many sets in existence as they were used by fundraisers in the early part of the 20thcentury to illustrate our work to raise funds for the organisation…We take very seriously our heritage…Unfortunately, we are not always linked in to Open Forums, which means…questions will remain unanswered, which…can lead to further speculation.”

  

Comment by Michael Pritchard on January 29, 2018 at 18:37

Barnardo's would have produced multiple sets of slides for use around the country. It is unlikely that this set would have been sold on eBay by Bardardo's and perhaps more likely that they were a set that was never returned after use...

In terms of the Barnardo's archive and the proposed digitisation and disposal the last update from 2014 was here: http://britishphotohistory.ning.com/profiles/blogs/barnardo-s-histo... Despite repeated calls and emails Barnardo's failed to respond to questions about the status of the archive. So if anyone knows and would like to share publicly or privately please contact me. e: michael@mpritchard.com

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